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Brigham Yoving University 

Right Reverend F. S. 
2^ Spalding, D.D. 

, Sp\-t^ 126741 

Joseph Smith, Jr., 
As A Translator. 



Rt. Rev. F. S. Spalding, D. D. 

fFith the kind assistance of capable scholars. 

With the Compliments 
of the Author 


THE ARROW PRESS, 66 We«t Second South 


To my many Mormon friends — who 

are as honest searchers after the truth 

as he hopes he is himself — this book 

is dedicated by 


Salt Lake City, Utah, 

November 1. 1912. 





If the Book of Mormon is true, it is, next to the Bible, 
the most important book in the world. This fact has been 
appreciated by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of 
Latter-day Saints and by them alone. Their leaders and 
teachers have defended the authenticity of the book with 
great earnestness and power. No fair-minded man can read 
the works of Orson Pratt (perhaps the ablest of all the Mor- 
mon advocates), and of Brigham H. Roberts, who, in his "New 
Witnesses for God," has replied to more recent criticism, with- 
out being impressed with their conviction of the truth and 
value of the Book of Mormon, and their deep sense of duty 
to persuade others to accept their conclusions. If this 
book is what it claims to be it throws light upon matters 
of the first importance. 

At the present time, when New Testament scholars, 
with better linguistic and historic equipment than ever 
before, are studying the life and teachings of Jesus, the 
record of His appearance to the Nephites and the version 
of His teachings preserved by the Nephite scribes would 
be of great value. 

A flood of light would be thrown upon the whole 
question of Church origins if the account of the organiza- 
tion of the Church in the new world, described in the Book 
of Mormon, were similar to that in the old. 

The value of the Book of Mormon to the archaeologist 
would be equally great. If this Nephite record be true, 
we have an account of the civilization in the North and 
Central and South Americas from "The earliest ages after 
the Flood to the beginning of the Fifth Century of the 
Christian Era." ^ 

The Book of Mormon, were it shown to be true, would 
give important information to Scientists. The account of 
the convulsions of nature, which occurred in America at 
the time of Christ's coming, would compel the geologist 
to re-examine his theories as to the formation of land and 

1. O. Pratt's "Remarkable Visions." 


sea, and the astronomer to adjust his laws of the heavens 
to the wonderful three days' darkness. The botanist and 
zoologist would have to rewrite the account of the flora 
and fauna of America. It is not to be wondered, therefore, 
that those who believe in the truth of this book have been 
faithful in urging its claim to serious attention. 

On the other hand it is inexcusable that the book has 
never had the serious examination which its importance 
demands. Professor Orson Pratt was not far from correct 
when he wrote : 

"The great majority of the world, however, reject the 
Book of Mormon without the least examination as to its 
claims. They have heard that there was such a book, 
but they know nothing of its contents, only that it claims 
to be a divine revelation. They at once reject it as an 
imposture." ^ 

He says, moreover: 

"This book must be either true or false. If true, it is 
one of the most important messages ever sent from God 
to man, affecting both the temporal and eternal interests 
of every people under heaven to the same extent and in 
the same degree that the message of Noah affected the 
inhabitants of the old world. If false, it is one of the most 
cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed 
upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions who 
would sincerely receive it as the word of God." ^ 

The dilemma accepted for the book is also accepted 
for its author. If Joseph Smith is not a true prophet of 
God he must be an impostor — was a position frankly ac- 
cepted by this and other writers. As a result it was in- 
evitable that the whole discussion should descend to per- 
sonalities. Those who attacked the Mormons felt moved 
to publish everything they could discover or invent to the 
discredit of "Joe Smith" and his parents, while those who 
believed in him replied with a partisan record of virtues 
of life, and miracles of power. 

A rather careful reading of the controversy leads this 
writer to the conclusion that the Latter-day Saints set an 

2, "The Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon," page 2, Liverpool, 1860; 
also page 1. 

example of dignity and courtesy which their opponents 
rarely followed. And yet, in the adoption of this unfair 
method, critics of Mormonism were but following the exam- 
ple of other defenders of their faith against novelty in religion. 


It is not the purpose of this book to enter into the 
discussion as to the truthfulness of Joseph Smith, Jr.'s de- 
scription of the finding of the Golden Plates in a hill of consid- 
erable size, "convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario 
County, New York," nor of his at last obtaining possession of 
them, together with the Urim and Thummim and the breast- 
plate, on September 22, 1827. 

It is proposed, for the sake of argument, that we admit 
the truth of the account of the finding of the plates and 
other contents of the stone box — as printed in the "Extracts 
from the History of Joseph Smith" in the "Pearl of Great 
Price," and as described more minutely by Prof. Orson 
Pratt. No doubt, Mr. Pratt obtained his account from Joseph 
Smith himself, and his statement is as follows : 

"These records were engraved on plates, which had the 
appearance of gold. Each plate was not far from seven by 
eight inches in width and length, being not quite as thick 
as common tin. They were filled on both sides with en- 
gravings in Egyptian characters and bound together in a 
volume as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge 
with three rings running through the whole. The volume 
was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which 
was sealed. The characters or letters upon the unsealed 
part were small and beautifully engraved. The whole 
book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, 
as well as much skill in the art of engraving. With the 
records was found a curious instrument, called by the 
ancients the Urim and Thummim. which consisted of two 
transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in the two rims of 
a bow. This was in use in ancient times by persons called 
'seers.' It was an instrument, by the use of which they 
received revelations of things distant or of things past 
and future." ^ 

3. "Remarkable Visions," page 6, Liverpool, December 14, 1848. 


We have quite another question to ask, and it is one 
which was asked earnestly by those who were favorably 
impressed with Joseph Smith's statements about his wonder- 
ful discovery. The question is this: "Did Joseph Smith, 
Jr., translate the plates correctly? This question was asked 
by Martin Harris, who not only gave the Prophet Joseph 
Smith, Jr., and his wife fifty dollars to enable them to 
escape from the persecution in Manchester, New York, but 
who also furnished the money to print the first edition of 
Joseph Smith, Jr.'s translation. To satisfy Mr. Harris' 
curiosity, the Prophet "drew off from the plates" certain 
characters and gave Mr. Harris permission to submit them 
to expert examination. The expert whom Mr. Harris selected, 
by the advice of Dr. Mitchell, was Prof. Chas. Anthon, of 
New York. 

We have two accounts of Prof. Anthon's opinion. Joseph 
Smith's own statement, which he says he received from 
Mr. Harris, printed in "The Pearl of Great Price," is as 
follows : 

"I went to the City of New York, and presented the 
characters which had been translated, with the translation 
thereof, to Prof. Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his 
literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the trans- 
lation was correct, more so than any he had before seen trans- 
lated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were 
not yet translated, and he said they were Chaldaic, Assyriac, 
and Arabic, and he said they were true characters. He gave 
me a certificate certifying to the people of Palmyra, New 
York, that they were true characters, and that the transla- 
tion of such of them as had been transcribed were also 
correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket 
and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called 
me back and asked me how the young man (Joseph Smith) 
found out that there were gold plates in the place where 
he found them. I answered that an angel of God had re- 
vealed it unto him. He then said to me, 'Let me see that 
certificate.' I accordingly took it out of my pocket and 
gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying 
there was no such thing as ministering angels, and that if 
I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. 
I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and 
that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, T cannot 
read a sealed book.' " 

Professor Orson Pratt, in his essay on "Prophetic 
Evidence in Favor of the Book of Mormon," Liverpool, 
January 15, 1851, reprints from a periodical entitled "The 
Church Record," the other account of Prof. Anthon's opinion 
as to the characters copied by Joseph Smith, Jr., from the 

"Many years ago, the precise date I do not now recollect, 
a plain looking countryman (Martin Harris) called upon 
me with a letter from Dr. Samuel S. Mitchell, requesting 
me to examine and give my opinion upon a certain paper, 
marked with various characters, which the Doctor confessed 
he could not decipher, and which the bearer of the note 
was very anxious to have explained. A very brief examina- 
tion convinced me that it was a mere hoax and a very 
clumsy one, too. The characters were arranged in columns, 
like the Chinese mode of writing and presented the most 
singular medley that I ever beheld. Greek, Hebrew and 
all sorts of letters, more or less distorted, either through 
unskilfulness or from actual design, were intermingled with 
sundry delineations of half moons, stars and other natural 
objects, and the whole ended in a rude representation of 
the Mexican Zodiac." 

The question we now ask is "Was the translation of 
the Book of Mormon correct?" As far as we can discover, 
no further attempt was made to give an answer to this 
question from competent linguists. The emphasis was rather 
placed upon the actual objectivity of the plates themselves, 
and that end was secured by the exhibition of the plates, 
first to three and later to eight witnesses,* and the publica- 
tion of their testimony. This was the logical method of pro- 
cedure, because there was no scholar living whose opinion 
would have been of real value, even had all the plates been 
submitted for his inspection. 

4. And also the testimony of eight witnesses : "Be it known unto all nations, 
kindreds, tongnies and people, unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., 
the Author and Proprietor of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath 
been spoken, which have the appearance of grold ; and as many of the leaves as the 
said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands ; and we also saw the en- 
gravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious 
workmanship. And this we bear record, with words of soberness, that the said 
Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the 
said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names 
unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen : and we lie not, 
God bearing: witness of it," 

Christian Whitmer, 
Jacob Whitmer, 
Pbter Whitmer, Jr., 
John Whitmer, 
Hiram Page. 
Joseph Smith, Sb., 
Hyrum Smith, 
Samuel H. Smith. 

Champollion published the first successful steps in the 
decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics in 1822, and little 
of the language was understood when he died in 1832. The 
grammar which he began was not completed and published 
until 1841. The Latter-day Saints, are, therefore, not to 
be criticised for not giving the world the opinion of scholars 
upon the translation. Such evidence of the authenticity of 
their sacred book was impossible. They did the best thing 
that they could do ; they circulated with each copy of the Book 
of Mormon the testimony of the three and of the eight 
witnesses.* Though the eight witnesses testify only to hav- 
ing handled the plates and inspected the engravings thereon, 
"all of which had the appearance of ancient work of curious 
workmanship," the three witnesses further testify that 
they "also know that they (the plates) have been trans- 
lated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath de- 
clared it unto us, wherefore we know of a surety that the 
work is true." 

Failing to obtain the opinion of scholars to the correct- 
ness of the translation, the Latter-day Saints felt that they 
had something more impressive, the testimony of divinely 
inspired witnesses. 

4. The Book of Mormon, First Edition, facing page 688: "Be it known unto 
all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, unto whom this work shall come, that we, 
through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates 
which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the 
Lamanites, his brethren, and also of the people of Jared, which came from the tower 
of which hath been spoken ; and we also know that they have been translated by 
the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us ; wherefore we know 
of a surety, that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the 
engravings which are upon the plates, and they have been shown unto us by the 
power of God and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an Angel 
of God came from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld 
and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon ; and we know that it is by the grace 
of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that 
these things are true ; and it is marvellous in our eyes : Nevertheless, the voice of 
the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it ; wherefore, to be obedient 
unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know 
that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, 
and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him 
eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to 
the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen " 

Oliver Cowdery, 
David Whitmer, 
Martin Harris. 


The eighth article of faith of the Church of Jesus Christ 
of Latter-day Saints distinguishes between the correctness 
of the translation of the Bible and of the Book of Mormon. 
While the Bible is accepted as the Word of God, "so far 
as it is correctly translated," there is no such caution with 
reference to the Book of Mormon, but the statement, "We 
also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God," 
is without qualification. 

In thus placing the inspiration of the Book of Mormon 
upon a higher plane than that of the Bible, the Latter-day 
Saints are logical. The Book of Mormon was translated 
by one man, and he was accepted by them as an inspired 
prophet of God — using the Urim and Thummim. 

Of this "sacred instrument," Professor Pratt asks: 

"Did ever any inspired man anciently receive a revelation 
through the sacred instrument which was not given by a 
power from on high ?" ^ 

If it be objected that there is no record of the Urim 
and Thummim being used to produce accurate translations, 
the Mormon's reply is that God's own voice assured Oliver 
Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris that the trans- 
lation was by "the gift and power of God," and that, there- 
fore, the "work is true." So strong was their conviction of 
the superiority of the Book of Mormon, both in the original 
and in its translation, to the King James Bible, that Prof. 
Orson Pratt felt justified in writing as follows : 

"How are the Protestants then to know without new 
revelation, that any one book of the Bible was divinely in- 
spired? How do they know but that it was merely written 
according to the best judgment of the author? The Bible 
cannot inform them until the inspiration of the Bible be 
established. If it be admitted that the apostles and evange- 
lists did write the books of the New Testament, that does 
not prove of itself that they were divinely inspired at the 

5. Reply to a pamphlet printed in Glasgow with the "approbation"' of clergymen 
of different denominations, entitled "Remarks on Mormonism," Liverpool, 1849. 

time they wrote. They were men subject to like passions 
with other men and liable to err (except?) when under the 
direct inspiration of the Spirit. How can it be known with- 
out new revelation, that these writers did not sometimes 
write their own words and opinions instead of the Word of 
the Lord as given by the Holy Ghost ?"^ 

And again : 

"From the heterogeneous mass of contradictory manu- 
scripts they give an English translation and call it the 
Bible; thus leaving millions to guess out the true meaning, 
and quarrel and contend with each other because they do 
not guess alike." ^ 

And again: 

"Satan has taken the advantage of their dark and benighted 
condition and robbed the world of a great number of sacred 
books, corrupting those few that remained to such a degree 
that he has the whole of Christendom quarreling about 
their true meaning." ^ 

The Mormon writers have never been quite consistent 
in this position, because even Prof. Orson Pratt spends far 
more time and effort proving the truth of the Book of 
Mormon from the Bible (faulty and uncertain as it may be 
as to its original manuscripts and their translation) than 
in establishing the truth of the Bible from the Book of 
Mormon. However, since he was endeavoring to convince 
those who had implicit confidence in the Bible, such a 
method appeared to him to be the most advisable. 

6. Essay No. 3 on Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, Liverpool, 
December 1, 1850. 



It is surely clear to the reader that the correctness of 
the translation of the Book of Mormon is a most important 
question. It was the conviction that he had been selected 
by the Almighty to give to mankind this Book which won 
for Joseph Smith, Jr., the attention of earnest men and 
gave him leadership over them. If the translation of the 
plates is inaccurate he did not deserve that leadership. How- 
ever sincere he may have been in believing in his mission, 
if the translation he gave to mankind is false, he is shown 
to have been self-deceived. More than this: The reliance 
placed upon the witnesses who testified that God's voice 
assured them that the translation was "by the gift and 
power of God" is broken down. They, too, were self- 
deceived. They did not hear God's voice ; because God's voice 
could not have assured them that an incorrect thing was true. 

If the Book of Mormon was not a correct translation, 
and yet Joseph Smith thought that it came to him by 
inspiration and revelation from God, thoughtful men cannot 
be asked to accept other revelations which Joseph Smith, 
Jr., asserted were also given to him by the Deity. If he 
was self-deceived in regard to his first and most extensive 
work, how can we be sure he was not also self-deceived in 
regard to later supposed communications from the Almighty? 
These questions are most critical, and yet, if the thoughtful 
Latter-day Saints of today are like those of the past, they 
will welcome them, because they have always invited in- 

In a discourse delivered in the Tabernacle at Logan, 
Utah, Sunday evening, April 2, 1911, reported by Mr. F. E. 
Barker for the June, 1911, number of "The Improvement 
Era," Elder Brigham Roberts, perhaps the most candid and 
able of the living defenders of Mormonism, made this matter 
clear. After quoting from a pamphlet entitled "The Bible 
and the Book of Mormon" by Rev. Paul Jones, of St. John's 
Church, Logan, Utah, a statement of his own, that the 
Book of Mormon of necessity must submit to every test, 
to literary criticism as well as to every other kind of 
criticism, Mr. Roberts said : 


"I am willing to repeat my statement that the Book 
of Mormon must submit to every test — literary criticism 
with the rest. Indeed, it must submit to every analysis 
and examination. It must submit to historical tests, to the 
tests of archaeological research, and also to the higher 
criticism. And, what is more, in the midst of it all, its 
advocates must carry themselves in a spirit of patience 
and of courage ; and that they will do just as long, of course, 
as their faith remains true to the book. For many years, 
after a rather rigid analysis, as I think, of the evidence 
bearing upon the truth of the Book of Mormon, I have 
reached through some stress and struggle, too, an absolute 
conviction of its truth. The Book is flung down into the 
world's mass of literature, and here it is ; we proclaim it 
true, and the world has the right to test it to the uttermost 
in every possible way." 


We have seen how much depends upon the answer to 
our question, "Was the Book of Mormon translated cor- 
rectly?" We have also seen that those who think it was 
correctly translated, invite and welcome such a question. 
We accept the invitation in the spirit it is given, and again 
ask our question, "Is the translation of the Book of Mormon 

. In his essay on "Divine Authority," on the question 
"Was Joseph Smith sent of God?" Apostle Orson Pratt gives 
as the eleventh reason for answering the question in the 
affirmative : 

"The miracles wrought by Joseph Smith are evidence of 
no small moment to establish his divine authority. In the 
name of the Lord he cast out devils, healed the sick, spoke 
with new tongues, interpreted ancient languages and pre- 
dicted future events." 

What were the "ancient languages" the Prophet trans- 
lated? Quite clearly other translations than the Book of 
Mormon are referred to; because Apostle Pratt was too 
good a logician to think of proving the Book of Mormon 
by the Book of Mormon itself, especially when he had — as 
we have just seen — charged Protestant Christians with such 


reasoning in a circle about the inspiration of the Hebrew 
Scriptures. "The interpretation of ancient languages" re- 
ferred to is considered of a character with casting out 
devils, healing the sick and speaking with new tongues, 
and if true, is supernormal evidence of Divine power. In- 
deed, the "interpretation of ancient languages" is referred 
to as one of "the miracles wrought by Joseph Smith." To 
those other translations we therefore turn because they 
may enable us to answer our question. 

Joseph Smith's competency as a translator of ancient 
languages can be ascertained in but one way. The original 
texts, together with his interpretations, must be submitted 
to competent scholars, and if they declare his translation 
to be correct, then it must be accepted as true. We have 
seen that an effort was made by Martin Harris — with the 
approval of Joseph Smith, Jr. — to do this, but at a time 
when such a test was quite impossible. Such a test of the 
Book of Mormon could be made today; because the Egypt- 
ian language is readily translated by many scholars, but the 
plates are not available. They are kept by "the heavenly 
messenger" who delivered them to the Prophet, and to whom 
they were again delivered up, "and he has them in his charge 
unto this day." Our purpose will be served equally well 
if the other translations of the prophet referred to can be 
examined, and fortunately one of these translations, together 
with the original text, is available. We refer to "The Book 
of Abraham," translated from the Papyrus by Joseph Smith. 
"A translation of some ancient records, that have fallen 
into our hands, from the catacombs of Egypt; the writings 
of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of 
Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus." 

The Book of Abraham, with three fac-similes of the 
original Egyptian text of Abraham "written by his own 
hand, upon papyrus," together with the Prophet's explana- 
tion and the translation, is a part of the "Pearl of Great 
Price," one of the Sacred Books of the Church of Jesus 
Christ of Latter-day Saints. The history of this book may 
also be readily learned, because Mr. Brigham H. Roberts, 
with scrupulous accuracy, has reprinted, in the second vol- 
ume of his "History of the Church," the Prophet Joseph 
Smith's own account of the discovery of the book and its 


translation, as first published by him in "Times and Sea- 
sons." For the convenience of the reader, this account is 
reprinted : 

"On the third of July, Michael H. Chandler came to 
Kirtland to exhibit some Egyptian Mummies. There were 
four human figures together with some two or three rolls 
of papyrus covered with hieroglyphic figures and devices. 
As Mr. Chandler had been told I could translate them, he 
brought me some of the characters and I gave him the 
interpretation, and like a gentleman, he gave me the fol- 
lowing certificate: 

"Kirtland, July 6, 1835. 

"This is to make known to all who may be desirous, 
concerning the knowledge of Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., in de- 
ciphering the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic characters in 
my possession, which I have in many eminent cities showed 
to the most learned; and, from the information that I could 
ever learn, or meet with, I find that of Mr. Joseph Smith, 
Jun., to correspond in the most minute matters. 

Travelling With and Proprietor of Egyptian Mummies."* 

"Soon after this, some of the saints at Kirtland pur- 
chased the mummies and papyrus, a description of which 
will appear hereafter, and with W. W. Phelps and Oliver 
Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some 
of the characters of hieroglyphics, and much to our joy, 
found that one of the rolls contained the writing of Abraham, 
another the writing of Joseph of Egypt, etc. * * * a 
more full account of which will appear in its place, as I 
proceed to examine or unfold them. Truly we can say 
the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and 
truth." ■" 

"The remainder of the month, I was continually engaged 
in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham and ar- 
ranging a grammar of the Egyptian Language as practiced 
by the ancients." * 

"Oct. 1, 1835 — This afternoon I labored on the Egyptian 
Alphabet, in company with Brothers Oliver Cowdery and 

6. Hiatory of The Church, Vol 2. page 285. 

7. HUtory of The Church, VoL 2, page 236. 

8. History of The Church. VoL 2, page 238. 


W. W. Phelps, and during the research, the principles of 
astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the 
ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of 
which will appear hereafter." • 

"Saturday, Oct. 24 — Mr. Goodrich and wife called to see 
the ancient Egyptian records, and also Dr. Frederick G. 
Williams to see the mummies." " 

"Thursday, 29— While at the Doctor's, Bishop Edward 
Partridge came in, in company with President Phelps. I 
was much rejoiced to see him. We examined the mummies, 
returned home and my scribe commenced writing in my 
journal a history of my life." ^^ 

The complete translation of the Book of Abraham, to- 
gether with the fac-similes, was published in "Times and 
Seasons" for March 1, 1842, March 15, 1842, and May 16, 
1842. It was considered from the first — and it is accepted 
today — as a revelation from God. "Truly we can say," wrote 
the Prophet, "The Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance 
of peace and truth." 

In the preface to the English edition of the "Pearl of 
Great Price," published in Liverpool, July 11, 1851, Mr. 
Franklin D. Richards describes the book, of which "The 
Book of Abraham" was a part, as "a little collection of preci- 
ous truths — that will increase their ability to maintain and 
to defend the holy faith." His preface concludes with the 
following testimony: 

"Nor do we conceive it possible for any unpreju- 
diced person to arise from a careful perusal of this work, 
without being deeply impressed with a sense of the Divine 
calling and holy ordination of the man by whom these 
revelations, translations and narrations have been communi- 
cated to us. As impervious as the minds of men may be 
at present to convictions, the day is not far distant when 
sinners, as well as Saints, will know that Joseph Smith 
was one of the greatest men that ever lived upon the 
earth, and that under God he was the Prophet and founder 
of the dispensation of the fullness of times, in which will 
be gathered into one all things which are in Christ, both 
which are in heaven and which are on earth." 

9. History of The Church, Vol. 2, p. 286. 

10. History of The Church, Vol. 2, page 291. 

11. History of The Church, VoL 2, page 316. 


Apostle George Q. Cannon published, in 1888, "The Life 
of Joseph Smith the Prophet," and his account of the Book 
of Abraham gives further evidence — most valuable as com- 
ing from one who was intimately acquainted with the 
feelings of his fellow churchmen — that the translation we 
are considering was believed by Joseph Smith, Jr., and his 
contemporaries to have been given him by revelation and 
inspiration : 

"While Joseph Smith had been laboring in Kirtland, 
journeying to and from Missouri, teaching his brethren and 
being taught of God, there were coming to him, from one 
of the catacombs of Egypt, the writings of Father Abraham 
and of Joseph, the governor of Egypt. 

"On the 7th of January, 1831, a French traveler and 
explorer penetrated the depths of a catacomb near the 
site of ancient Thebes. It had cost him time and treasure 
and influence to make the entrance. After securing the 
license to make the researches, he employed more than 
four hundred men for a period of some months to make the 
necessary excavations. When he was able at last to stay 
within this multiplied tomb, he found several hundred 
mummies; but only eleven of them were in such a state 
that they could be removed. He carried them away, but 
died on the voyage to Paris. By his will the mummies 
were bequeathed to Michael H. Chandler, his nephew, and 
in search of this gentleman they were sent through Ireland 
and finally across the sea. After two years' wandering 
they found their owner. Hoping to discover some treasure 
of precious stones or metals, Mr. Chandler opened the 
coffins or embalming cases. Attached to two of the bodies 
were rolls of linen preserved with the same care and appar- 
ently by the same method as the bodies. Within the linen 
coverings were rolls of papyrus bearing a perfectly pre- 
served record in black and red characters, carefully formed. 
With other of the bodies were papyrus strips bearing 
epitaphs and astronomical calculations. The learned men 
of Philadelphia and other places flocked to see these repre- 
sentatives of an ancient time, and Mr. Chandler solicited 
their translation of some of the characters. Even the wisest 
of them were only able to interpret the meaning of a very 
few signs. From the very moment he discovered the rolls, 
Mr. Chandler had heard that a prophet lived in the West 
who could decipher strange languages and reveal things 
hidden ; and failing with all the learned men and having 
parted with seven of the mummies and some few strips of 
papyrus, bearing astronomical figures, he finally reached 


Kirtland and presented himself to Joseph with the few 
remaining bodies and with the rolls of manuscript. The 
prophet, under inspiration of the Almighty, interpreted some 
of the writings to Mr. Chandler's satisfaction. So far as 
the learned men of Philadelphia had been able to translate, 
Joseph's work coincided with theirs; but he went much 
further, and in his delight, Mr. Chandler wrote a letter to 
the Prophet certifying to this effect . 

"Later, some friends of the Prophet purchased the four 
mummies with the writings. Joseph engaged assiduously 
to interpret from the rolls and strips of papyrus. The 
result of his labor was to give to the world a translation 
of the Book of Abraham. This book was written by the 
hand of Abraham while he was in Egypt, and was pre- 
served by the marvelous dispensation of Providence through 
all the mutations of time and the dangers of distance, to 
reach the hand of God's Prophet in this last dispensation. 
By this record the Father of the Faithful makes known 
what the Lord Almighty had shown to him concerning the 
things that were before the world was; and he declares 
that he did penetrate the mysteries of the Heavens even 
unto Kolob, the star which is nearest the throne of God, 
the Eternal One. * * * ^^ ^j^g time when Joseph, aided 
by the Inspiration of the Almighty, was enabled to make 
those translations, he was studying ancient languages and 
the grandest sciences, while he was also imparting instruc- 
tion in the school of the brethren at Kirtland, that others 
than himself might have their minds fitted to grasp the 
sublimities of truth in theology and history and the laws 
governing the Universe." ^^ 

That the prophet most sincerely believed in the authen- 
ticity of the Book of Abraham and the correctness of its 
translation, the testimony of Mr. T. B. H. Stenhouse, an un- 
friendly critic, is of value. After treating the subject at 
some length, he concludes: 

"The author, notwithstanding, still clings to the asser- 
tion that Joseph believed sincerely that he was inspired, and 
the pride with which he gave this translation to the world 
supports that conclusion." " 

12. The Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, by George Q. Cannon, Juvenile In- 
structor Office, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1888, pages 187-188. 

13. "Rocky Mountain Saints," page 520. 



It is now clear that in the translation of the Egyptian 
hieroglyphics, known as the "Book of Abraham," we have 
just the test we need of Joseph Smith's accuracy as a trans- 
lator. The original text with the Prophet's translation are 
available for our investigation. If, in the judgment of compe- 
tent scholars, this translation is correct, then the probabilities 
are all in favor of the correctness of the Book of Mormon. 
If, however, the translation of the "Book of Abraham" 
is incorrect, then no thoughtful man can be asked to 
accept the Book of Mormon, but, on the other hand, honesty 
will require him, with whatever personal regret, to re- 
pudiate it and the whole body of belief, which has been built 
upon it and upon the reputation its publication gave to 
its author. 

There is one possible objection to this argument, which 
should be considered. In the translation of the "Book 
of Abraham" no mention is made of the use of the "Urim 
and Thummim." Does this omission put the translation 
of the "Book of Abraham" in a different class with that 
of the "Book of Mormon," and so destroy the value of our 
test? This cannot be urged. The "Urim and Thummim" 
quite clearly were but a means to an end, the end being 
the illumination of the mind of the Prophet. They did not 
use him ; he made use of them. When the revelations and 
the inspirations came without their use they would be 

In the case of the translation of "The Book of Abraham," 
the thoughtful reader of the preceding pages must con- 
clude that the Prophet Joseph Smith and his associates 
had no thought that his inspiration and the resulting revela- 
tion was of any different character than that which gave 
to the world the translation of the "Book of Mormon." 
Believers in the integrity of Joseph Smith, Jr., feel sure 
that he always used whatever means were necessary to open 
his mind and heart to divine illumination. We may, there- 
fore, press our question, "Is the translation of the 'Book 
of Abraham,' which Joseph Smith believed he made — even 
as he had made the translation of the 'Book of Mormon' — 
by Divine inspiration, a correct translation?" 


This matter, as to whether the "Book of Abraham" was 
a correct translation, was investigated in 1861 by Jules 
Remy and Julius Brenchley, M. A., and upon the authority 
of Mr. Theodule Deveria: 

"A young savant of the museum of the Louvre," ^"^ the 
translation was declared to be entirely incorrect — and an 
entirely different translation was published in the investi- 
gator's book, entitled 'A Journey to Great Salt Lake City.' " 

It is not strange that this opinion has received but 
little attention from the Latter-day Saints. 

Mr. Theodule Deveria is described as a "young savant" — 
and, unquestionably, this matter is far too important to 
depend on the opinion of a youthful amateur. Such an 
important matter deserves the thoughtful consideration of 
mature scholars — of the world's ablest orientalists. 

It is in the belief that the honest searchers for truth 
among the Latter-day Saints will welcome the opinions of 
authoritative scholars, and, if necessary, courageously readjust 
their system of belief, however radical a revolution of 
thought may be required, that the following judgments of 
the world's greatest Egyptologists have been ascertained. 
The opinions were obtained from the scholars themselves, 
and in no case did one man know the opinion of another. 

It will be seen that there is practically complete agree- 
ment as to the real meaning of the hieroglyphics, and that 
this meaning is altogether different from that of Joseph 
Smith's translation. For purposes of comparison, the text 
and Joseph Smith's interpretation is given first. 

14. A Journey to Great Salt Lake City, Vol. II, page 539. 


No. 1. 


Fig. 1. The Angel of the Lord. 2. Abraham fastened upon altar. 3. The idol- 
atrous priest of Elkenah attempting to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice. 4. The altar 
for sacrifice by the idolatrous priests, standing before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, 
Mahmackrah, Korash, and Pharaoh. 5. The idolatrous god of Elkenah. 6. The idol- 
atrous god of Libnah. 7. The idolatrous god of Mahmackrah. 8. The idolatrous god 
of Korash. 9. The idolatrous god of Pharaoh. 10. Abraham in Egypt. 11. Designed 
to represent the pillars of heaven, as understood by the Egyptians. 12. Raukeeyang, 
signifying expanse, or the firmament over our heads ; but in this case, in relation to 
this subject, the Egyptians meant it to signify Sbaumau, to be high, or the heavens, 
answering to the Hebrew word Shaumahyeem. 



No. 2. 


Fig. 1. Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or residence 
of God. First in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. The 
measurement according to celestial time which celestial time signifies one day to a 
cubit. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years, according to the measurement 
of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh. 

Fig. 2. Stands next to Kolob, called by the Egyptians Oliblish, which is the next 
grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides ; holding 
the key of power also, pertaining to other planets ; as revealed from God to Abraham, 
as he offered sacrifice upon an altar, which he had built unto the Lord. 

Fig. 3. Is made to represent God, sitting upon his throne, clothed with power 
and authority ; with a crown of eternal light upon his head ; representing also the 
grand Key-Words of the Holy Priesthood, as revealed to Adam in the Garden of Eden, 
as also to Seth, Noah, Melchisedeck, Abraham, and all to whom the Priesthood was 

Fig. 4. Answers to the Hebrew word Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the 
f irmanent of the heavens ; also a numerical figure, in Egyptian signifying one thou- 
sand ; answering to the measuring of the time of Oliblish, which is equal with Kolob 
in its revolution and in its measuring of time. 

Fig. 5. Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh ; this is one of the governing 
planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light 
from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in 
other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, 
as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This 
planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, 
the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of 

Fig. 6. Represents the earth in its four quarters. 

Fig. 7. Represents God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens, 
the grand Key-Words of the Priesthood ; as also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto 
Abraham, in the form of a dove. 

Fig. 8. Contains writing that cannot be revealed unto the world ; but is to be 
had in the Holy Temple of God. 

Fig. 9. Ought not to be revealed at the present time. 

Fig. 10. Also. 

Fig. 11. Also. If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen. 

Figs. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20, will be given in the own due time of 
the Lord. 

The above translation is given as far as we have any right to give at the present 

No. 3. 


1. Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh's throne, by the politeness of the king, with a 
crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand 
Presidency in Heaven ; with the sceptre of justice and judgment in his hand. 

2. King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head. 

3. Signifies Abraham in Egypt; referring to Abraham, as given in the ninth 
number of the Times and Seasons, (also as given in the first fac-simile of this book.) 

4. Prince of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, as written above the hand. 

6. Shulem, one of the king's principal waiters, as represented by the characters 
above his hand. 

6. Olimlah, a slave belonging to the prince. 

Abraham is reasoning upon the principles of astronomy, in the king's court. 




"It is difficult to deal seriously with Joseph Smith's 
impudent fraud. His fac-simile from the Book of Abraham 
No. 2 is an ordinary hypocephalus, but the hieroglyphics 
upon it have been copied so ignorantly that hardly one of 
them is correct. I need scarce say that Kolob, etc., are 
unknown to the Egyptian language. Number 3 is a repre- 
sentation of the Goddess Maat leading the Pharaoh before 
Osiris, behind whom stands the Goddess Isis. Smith has 
turned the Goddess into a king and Osiris into Abraham. 
The hieroglyphics, again, have been transformed into un- 
intelligible lines. Hardly one of them is copied correctly." 


Oxford, England. 

"I have examined the illustrations given in the 'Pearl 
of Great Price.' In the first place, they are copies (very 
badly done) of well known Egyptian subjects of which I 
have dozens of examples. 

Secondly, they are all many centuries later than Abra- 
ham. On Number 2, I think there is — so far as the copy 
shows it — the name of Shishak, a popular name in Egypt 
from about 950 to 750 B. C., and such seems to be about 
the date of the other figures. 

Third, as to the real meaning of them: 
Number 1 is the well known scene of Anubis preparing 
the body of the dead man : 

1. Is the hawk of Horus. 

2. Is the dead person. 

3. Is Anubis. 

4. Is the usual funeral couch. 

5. 6, 7, 8 are the regular jars for embalming the 

parts of the body, with the head of a hawk, 

jackal, ape and man, of which dozens may be 

seen in the museums. 
10. Are the funeral offerings covered with lotus 

Number 2 is one of the usual discs with magic inscrip- 
tions placed beneath the head of the dead. Three fine 
ones of the same nature you can see in my Abydos 1 
LXXVII, LXXIX. The figures are well known ones in 
Egyptian mythology. 


Number 3 is the very common scene of the dead person 
before the judgment seat of Osiris, which occurs in most 
copies of the funeral papyri : 

1. Is Osiris in the usual form. 

2. Is Isis behind him. 

3. Is the stand of offerings with lotus flowers. 

4. Is the Goddess Nebhat or Maat (too badly 

drawn to know which). 

5. Is the dead person. 

6. Is the God Anubis, the conductor of the souls 

of the dead. 
The inscriptions are far too badly copied to be able to 
read them. 

To any one with knowledge of the large class of funeral 
documents to which these belong, the attempts to guess a 
meaning for them, in the professed explanations, are too 
absurd to be noticed. It may be safely said that there is not 
one single word that is true in these explanations. 

If any one wishes to verify the matter, they have only 
to ask any of the curators of Egyptian museums. Prof. 
Breasted of Chicago, Dr. Lythgoe of New York, or any one 
else who knows the subject. None but the ignorant could 
possibly be imposed on by such ludicrous blunders. 

Pray make any use you like of this letter." 


London University. 

Since Dr. Petrie refers to two American scholars, Dr. 
Breasted of Chicago and Dr. Lythgoe of New York, we 
print their opinions here: Dr. Lythgoe, being in Egypt, 
his opinion could not be secured, but instead, that of his 
assistant, Dr. Arthur C. Mace, was obtained : 

"May 23, 1912. 

'T have been greatly interested in the documents you 
have sent me regarding the connection of Joseph Smith 
with the Egyptian materials purchased by his people in 
1835, and concerning the whole situation I should like to 
make the following statement: 

"In 1822 Champollion published the first successful 
steps in the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics. It 
was only very gradually after this that he gained the ability 
to read the simpler and clearer sentences in hieroglyphic 


records. Little of the language, comparatively speaking, 
was understood when he died in 1832. He left in manuscript 
an elementary grammar, which was published by the gov- 
ernment, beginning in 1836, and reaching completion in 
1841. It would have been impossible for any American 
scholar to know enough about Egyptian inscriptions to 
read them before the publication of Champollion's grammar. 
I may add at this point that American Universities have 
never until recently given such studies any attention, and 
there is still only one professorship of the science in the 
United States, though it is now taught in the leading Ameri- 
can Universities. 

"It will be seen, then, that if Joseph Smith could read 
ancient Egyptian writing, his ability to do so had no con- 
nection with the decipherment of hieroglyphics by European 
scholars. Now, according to the statements of Joseph Smith 
himself, the three Egyptian documents which he publishes 
in connection with the 'Book of Abraham' in 'The Pearl 
of Great Price,' were secured by some of his followers, 
together with some mummies, purchased at Kirtland in 
1835. The point I wish to bring out is that the three 
fac-similes from the 'Book of Abraham' were associated 
with mummies. This fact is in complete harmony with 
the further fact that the three fac-similes are part of the 
usual equipment of the dead in the later period of Egyptian 
civilization before the Christian era. The three fac-similes 
in question represent equipment which will be and has been 
found in unnumbered thousands of Egyptian graves. In 
accepting them, then, as parts of the "Book of Abraham,' 
let it be understood that they were in universal use among 
the pagan Egyptians, and that for some reason the doctrines 
of Joseph Smith's monotheistic Abraham were universally 
accepted and used among the polytheistic Egyptians. In 
accepting these fac-similes as part of the 'Book of Abraham' 
it remains then for any one who so accepts them to explain 
why they were thus universally employed by a people who 
knew nothing of Abraham's God or Abraham's religion. The 
point, then, is that in publishing these fac-similes of Egypt- 
ian documents as part of an unique revelation to Abraham, 
Joseph Smith was attributing to Abraham not three unique 
documents of which no other copies exist, but was attribut- 
ing to Abraham a series of documents which were the com- 
mon property of a whole nation of people who employed 
them in every human burial, which they prepared. This 
was, of course, unknown to Smith, but it is a fact not only 
of my own knowledge, but also a commonplace of the 
knowledge of every orientalist who works in the Egyptian 


"Taking up these fac-similes now, let us discuss them 
in order. Number 1 depicts a figure reclining on a couch, 
with a priest officiating and four jars beneath the couch. 
The reclining figure lifts one foot and both arms. This 
figure represents Osiris rising from the dead. Over his 
head is a bird, in which form Isis is represented. The jars 
below, closed with lids carved in the forms of animal's heads, 
were used by the Egyptians to contain the viscera taken 
from the body of the dead man. This scene is depicted on 
Egyptian funeral papyri, on coffins and on late temple 
walls, unnumbered thousands of times. If desired, publi- 
cations of fac-similes of this resurrection scene from papyri, 
coffins, tomb and temple walls could be furnished in in- 
definite numbers, 

"Fac^simile JNumber 2 represents a little disc, sometimes 
made of metal, sometimes of papyrus, sometimes of woven 
goods with a smooth stucco surface. It is commonly called 
among Egyptologists a hypocephalus. It was placed under 
the head of the mummy and the various representations upon 
it were of a magical power designed to assist the deceased 
in various ways, especially to prevent the loss of his head. 
These did not come into use until the late centuries just 
before the Christian era. They did not appear in any 
Egyptian burials until over a thousand years after the time 
of Abraham. They were unknown in Egypt in Abraham's 

"Fac-simile Number 3 : This scene depicts the god 
Osiris enthroned at the left, with a goddess, probably Isis, 
behind him and before him three figures. The middle one, 
a man, led into the presence of Osiris by the goddess 
Truth, who grasps his hand, accompanied by a figure repre- 
sented in black, the head of which probably should be that 
of a wolf or a jackal, but which is here badly drawn. A 
lotus-crowned standard (numbered 3) bearing food, stands 
as usual before Osiris. This is the judgment scene, in which 
the dead man, led in by Truth, is to be judged by Osiris. 
This scene again is depicted innumerable times in the 
funeral papyri, coffins and tomb and temple walls of Egypt. 
No representation of it thus far found in Egypt, though we 
have thousands of them, dates earlier than 500 years after 
Abraham's age; and it may be stated as certain that the 
scene was unknown until about 500 years after Abraham's 

"To sum up, then, these three fac-similes of Egyptian! 
documents in the 'Pearl of Great Price' depict the mostf 
common objects in the mortuary religion of Egypt. Joseph 
Smith's interpretation of them as part of a unique revelation 
through Abraham, therefore, very clearly demonstrates that 
he was totally unacquainted with the significance of these 


documents and absolutely ignorant of the simplest^ |acts of 
Egyptian writing and civilization. Not to repeat it too 
often, the point I wish to make is that Joseph Smith 
represents as portions of a unique revelation through Abra- 
ham things which were commonplaces and to be found by 
many thousands in the every-day life of the Egyptians. 
We orientalists could publish scores of these 'fac-similes 
from the Book of Abraham' taken from other sources. 

"For example, any visitor in a modern museum with 
an Egyptian collection can find for himself plenty of ex- 
amples of the four jars with animal heads — the jars depicted 
under the couch in fac-simile number one. It should be 
noted further that the hieroglyphics in the two 'fac-similes 
from the 'Book of Abraham' (Nos. 2 and 3), though they 
belong to a very degenerate and debased age in Egyptian 
civilization, and have been much corrupted in copying, con- 
tain the usual explanatory inscriptions regularly found in 
such funerary documents." 

Haskell Oriental Museum, University of Chicago. 

"I return herewith, under separate cover, the 'Pearl of 
Great Price.' The 'Book of Abraham,' it is hardly necessary 
to say, is a pure fabrication. Cuts 1 and 3 are inaccurate 
copies of well known scenes on funeral papyri, and cut 
2 is a copy of one of the magical discs which in the late 
Egyptian period were placed under the heads of mummies. 
There were about forty of these latter known in museums 
and they are all very similar in character. Joseph Smith's 
interpretation of these cuts is a farrago of nonsense from 
beginning to end. Egyptian characters can now be read 
almost as easily as Greek, and five minutes' study in an 
Egyptian gallery of any museum should be enough to 
convince any educated man of the clumsiness of the 

Assistant Curator, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

Department of Egyptian Art. 



"The plates contained in the "Pearl of Great Price" 
are rather comical and a very poor imitation of Egyptian 
originals, apparently not of any one original, but of Egyptian 
originals in general. Apparently, the plate on page 50 
represents an embalmer preparing a body for burial. At 
the head, the soul (Kos) is flying away in the form of a 
bird. Under the bed on which the body lies are the 
canopic jars to hold the organs and entrails removed from 
the body in the process of embalming. In the waters 
below the earth I see a crocodile waiting to seize and devour 
the dead if he be not properly protected by ritual embalming 
against such a fate. 

"The latter (page 62) is also connected with burial, a 
representation of the life of the deceased on earth. The 
hieroglyphics which should describe the scenes, however, are 
merely illegible scratches, the imitator not having the skill 
or intelligence to copy such a script. 

"The name 'reformed Egyptian' is, if I forget not, a 
term used in the early days of Egyptian study, before much 
was known, by certain persons to designate one form of 
Egyptian script. The text of this chapter, as also the in- 
terpretation of the plates, displays an amusing ignorance. 
Chaldeans and Egyptians are hopelessly mixed together, 
although as dissimilar and remote in language, religion and 
locality as are today American and Chinese. In addition 
to which the writer knows nothing of either of them." 

University of Pennsylvania. In charge of expedition 

to Babylonia, 1888-1895. 

"After examining 'The Pearl of Great Price,' by Joseph 
Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah, The Deseret News, 1907, and 
in particular the three fac-similes, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, I am 
convinced that the following are facts : 

"1. That the author of the notes on the three fac- 
similes had before him Egyptian inscriptions, either on 
papyrus or some other material, or else fac-similes of such 
inscriptions. Compare, for example. No. 2 with the fac- 
similes of similar hypocephali in W. M. F, Petrie's Abydos, 
Pt. 1, 1902, Plate LXXVI, LXXVII and LXXIX, in which 
are sections exactly corresponding to sections in this fac- 
simile (No. 2). 


"2. That the author either knew Hebrew or had some 
means of arriving at, at least, an elementary knowledge of 
that language. Compare for example, the transliteration and 
translation yp^ in No. 1, note 12, although the trans- 
literation 'Rankeeyang' is far from accurate. 

"3. That the author knew neither the Egyptian language 
nor the meaning of the most commonplace Egyptian figures ; 
neither did any of those, whether human or Divine, who 
may have helped him in his interpretation, have any such 
knowledge. By comparing his notes on fac-similes Nos. 1, 
2 and 3 with any elementary book on Egyptian language and ^ iU 

religion, and especially by comparing the notes on No. 2 i 

with the explanation of the above named plate on page 49 ff. 
of the work of Petrie already named (the explanation is 
by A. E. Weigall, Chapter V), this becomes unquestionably 

"In general, it may be remarked that his explanations 
from a scientific and scholarly standpoint are absurd. Com- 
pare No. 1, note 1; No. 2, notes 4, 8, etc.; No. 3, notes 
2, 4, 5. The word 'Jah-oh-eh' in note 1 of No. 2, which he 
calls an Egyptian word ( !) is his faulty transliteration of 
the Hebrew mn". If Abraham wrote anything while he 
was in Egypt, it would most likely have been written 
in the Cuneiform, as that was the langua franca of his 
day and his own native language. 

"Many proofs of the correctness of the above three 
conclusive points may be offered if desired. A criticism 
in his explanations could be made, but the explanatory 
notes to his fac-similes cannot be taken seriously by any 
scholar, as they seem to be undoubtedly the work of pure 

REV. PROF. C. A. B. MERCER, Ph. D., 

Western Theological Seminary, Custodian Hibbard 

Collection, Egyptian Reproductions. 

Two German Scholars, Drs. Meyer and Von Bissing, 
give their opinion as follows. Dr. Edward Meyer, University 
of Berlin, is one of the foremost of living historians : ■ 

"The Egyptian papyrus which Smith declared to be 
the 'Book of Abraham,' and 'translated' or explained in his 
fantastical way, and of which three specimens are published 


in the 'Pearl of Great Price,' are parts of the well known 
'Book of the D^ad.' Although the reproductions are very 
bad, one can easily recognize familiar scenes from this book: 
'the body of the dead lying a ba' (bier). The canopic jars 
containing the entrails under it ; the soul in the shape of 
a bird flying above it, and a priest approaching it, or Osiris 
seated on his throne, Isis behind him, the Goddess of 
Righteousness with the feather on her head awaiting the 
deceased from the throne of Osiris." 


University of Berlin. 


"I have been interested since a long time in the Mor- 
mons and Joseph Smith's supposed translations of Egyptian 
texts. A careful study has convinced me that Smith prob- 
ably believed seriously to have deciphered the ancient hiero- 
glyphics, but that he utterly failed. 

"What he calls the 'Book of Abraham' is a funeral 
Egyptian text, probably not older than the Greek ages. His 
figure 1 should be commented upon as follows: 

"The dead man (1) is lying on a bier (4) under which 
are standing the four canopic jars (5-8) and before which 
is standing the offering table (10). The soul is leaving the 
body in the moment when the priest (3) is opening the 
body with a knife for mummification. Fig. 3 may be part 
of the same papyrus — the Goddess Maat (Truth) is intro- 
ducing the dead (5) and his shadow (6) before Osiris (1) 
and Isis (2) before whom an offering table stands (3). 

"It is impossible from Smith's bad fac-similes to make 
out any meaning of the inscriptions, but that they cannot 
say what Smith thought is clear from the certain significa- 
tion of the figures 1-5. 6 only may be interpreted in differ- 
ent ways, but never as Smith did. 

"Fig. 2 is copied from a hypocephalus of the ancient 
Egyptians, a magical book on which Dr. Birch has often 
written in the proceedings of the Biblical Archaeological 
Society, and Dr. Leamans in the Actes des Congress des 
Orientalistes of Leyden. None of the names mentioned 
by Smith can be found in the text, and he has misinterpreted 
the signification of every one figure : Fig. 5 is the divine 


cow of Hathor, 6 are the four children of Horus as the 
Canopic Gods, 4 is the God Sokar in the Sacred Book, etc. 

"I hope this will suffice to show that Jos. Smith cer- 
tainly never got a Divine revelation in the meaning of the 
ancient Egyptian Script, and that he never deciphered 
hieroglyphic texts at all. He probably used Athenasius 
Kirsher the Jesuit's work, and there found a method of 
reading the old Egyptian signs very much like his own." 

Professor of Egyptology in the University of Munich. 


^ ill 

m 3 1197 00152 4047